As COVID-19 continues to impact the bowl season, issues within the Boise State football program could change the fate of multiple games.
On Monday afternoon, Dave Portnoy, president of Arizona Bowl sponsor Barstool Sports, confirmed that Boise State football has withdrawn from the game, leaving Central Michigan football without an opponent.
Earlier in the day, Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger reported that Boise State is “working to determine if it has enough players to play Central Michigan in the Arizona Bowl.” The game, played at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, is scheduled for Friday.
CMU arrived in Tucson on Sunday and are ready to play, per Dellenger. Meanwhile, four hours away in El Paso, Texas, Washington State waits to see if the Sun Bowl will find a replacement opponent after Miami had to bow out due to its own COVID-19 issues.
There are discussions about the Central Michigan filling that void, now that Boise State cannot make the trip, Dellenger reports. CMU and Wazzu have never played each other before. Portnoy indicates that the Arizona Bowl is also seeking to find a replacement, indicating that Washington State could fill the spot as well, rather than the other way around, though Dellenger reports that Washington State is “committed to the Sun Bowl & would not play in the Arizona Bowl.”
The Sun Bowl is also scheduled for Dec. 31.
As the omicron variant of COVID-19 spreads throughout the country, a number of games have already been impacted. The Hawai'i Bowl, between Hawai'i and Memphis, was called off due to an outbreak within the UH program, after Memphis had already made the long trip.
Two ACC vs. AAC games—Boston College vs. East Carolina (Military Bowl) and Virginia vs. SMU (Fenway Bowl)—have also been canceled.
Other games, like the Sun Bowl, have looked for new opponents after one team was forced to drop out. Rutgers, the 5–7 team with the highest APR score, is stepping in to face Wake Forest in the Gator Bowl after Texas A&M dropped out.
Brett McMurphy of The Action Network reports that Memphis, SMU and East Carolina will not make themselves available for a replacement bowl game slot. Marshall, which already lost in the New Orleans Bowl against Louisiana, offered to fill a second bowl slot and face Washington State in the Sun Bowl, but “logistics couldn't be worked out,” according to McMurphy.
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